Booksmart (2019)

A terrific, genuinely funny comedy about a longtime friendship facing the precipice of adulthood, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut plays like an updated John Hughes teen comedy. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are perfectly cast as two overachieving best friends who decide to have a hedonistic night right before graduation. With shades of “Superbad,” the two head out into the evening for a series of episodic vignettes while looking for a classmate’s party, and their escapades throughout the evening are charming and often laugh-out-loud funny. Wilde has a deft hand with comedic set up and she’s well served by a terrific, touching screenplay (by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman), not to mention a winning supporting cast brimming with comedic talent: Among the many terrific performers, Skyler Gisondo stands out (as usual), thanks to his touching sincerity and go-for-broke comedic sensibilities. But really, this is all about Feldstein and Dever, and their friendship is entirely believable every step of the way, and while the movie is perhaps a tad too long, their chemistry and performances more than make up for it.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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